IF you are a boy growing up in Cook County, you do not get to pick which baseball team you will become a fan of. It is preordained. If your father is a Cubs fan, you’ll be a Cubs fan. If your father likes the White Sox, you’ll like the White Sox. If your father doesn’t like baseball, you’re probably going to get the shit kicked out of you because you throw like a girl.
My Dad is a White Sox fan, so I am indeed a White Sox fan though I don’t think that’s the only reason. I also hated the Cubs because of all the day games they played. I remember coming home from an exhausting day at Catholic School, looking forward to kicking back with an Aldi brand cola, and an episode of “Duck Tales” only to turn on Channel 9 to find the Cubs losing by 5 in the top of the 6th while Haray Carey went on about how the donut he ate for breakfast reminded him of his childhood pal Hank Parsons who would later be killed in the Korean conflict.
Since my Dad worked nights he was able to take my older brother Matt and I to plenty of day games over the summer at Old Comiskey Park. This was the easiest way for him to drink beer in public while also looking like a model father.
Old Comiskey in the late 80s was a sight to behold. The ballpark itself was fine, the scoreboard was interesting, but the people were awesome. They looked like rejects from a Poison video. The dudes wore tight acid wash jeans and their shirts were forever sleeveless. They tailgated in their Camaro’s , drinking Old Style and playing air guitar along with back to back Van Halen courtesy of 97.9 the Loop.
The women looked like the Bridgeport versions of the babes you’d see in a Warrant video, which is to say paler and with 100% more bratwurst stuck in their teeth. They wore spandex, teased their bangs, and called their boyfriends fucking jags, as in:
“Hey Tommy. Get me another beer you fucking jag.”
“If you think you’re getting any of this after the game you’re outta your fucking mind. You fucking jag.”
Our seats that afternoon were in the front row upper deck near the left field foul pole. My brother was the statistician. He learned how to fill out the score card, he knew player stats, and knew where each team was in the standings. I was the casual observer. I paid attention to the game only when Carlton Fisk or Harold Baines were up to bat. I made up conversations between the pitchers waiting in the bullpen. I was mostly amazed at the ability of the beer vendor to pop four cans of Old Style and pour them simultaneously into 4 different cups.
My Dad always brought a set of binoculars to a game. When they announced a player change, my Dad would look through the binoculars double check the jersey and make sure the right substitution was made. Nothing was going to sneak past him. Other than that they sat in their holster.
I asked him if I could use them and he didn’t ask questions. As long as we were entertained, we’d stay longer. If we stayed longer, my Dad got to have more beers. If my Dad got to drink beers we could talk him into buying us anything from a foam finger to a nickel bag of cocaine. It was a classic win- win.
In between innings I was scouring the stands looking for nothing in particular. On the lower level, about 3 sections down I saw 2 guys red in the face standing chest to chest. One guy looked like the janitor at my school who would buy students cigarettes and the other looked like Randy Macho Man Savage in a “Big Johnson” t-shirt. Both of course, sleeveless. As the Fannie Mae security was about to reach them, the Macho Man decked the janitor. Leveled him with a right hook to the jaw. I watched his eyes bulge and his mouth open wide as he stood over his adversary. I could hear him screaming in triumph and rage from where I sat.
As security pulled the men apart, their girlfriends got into it as the classy ladies of Bridgeport tend to do. It began with hair pulling and turned into hammerfists to the back of each other heads. Luckily for both, their overuse of Aqua Net dulled the blows. Security again came rushing down and managed to separate the two. As they were being dragged away the Macho Man’s girlfriend reached out, grabbed the tube top of her opponent and ripped it in two, unleashing the slumbering flesh beasts beneath.
Breastfeeding excluded, these were the first breasts I saw in real life and they belonged to a woman named Stacy. I know this because on the left one was a tattoo that said “Stacy”. She was sunburnt except for the strip where the tube top used to be, giving her the resemblance of a Mark Rothko painting. Just then my brother interrupted.
“Gimme those binoculars. I need to see whose warming up in the bullpen”
“Hold on a minute,” I replied, struggling to keep my cool.
“But I need them to check.”
“You will wait and you will like it!” I hollered back at my brother.
Stacy stood there shocked but made no attempt to cover herself up, an action that was respected and endorsed by the gentlemen sitting in her section. As she was hauled away, the men booed, a beer was tossed onto one of the security guards and then the game went on as normal.
I do not remember who won the game. I don’t even remember who the Sox were playing. All I know is that I still go to White Sox games. And sometimes, as I sit in my chair and scan the crowd, I swear that the wind cries, “STAAAACY”